Joe from Wagga Wagga, lives with his mum who has mobility problems. He enjoys spending time with her and has found good health care support.
‘At times it can be tough. But you can get help. Sometimes you have to look for it… but help is only a phone call away.’
How did you start to be a carer?
In 2009, Mum’s health started deteriorating. We found out she had cancer, so she had chemotherapy and also went into a drug trial. The treatment really knocked her around so although she’s now cancer free, the rest of her health is buggered.
She was living in Queensland and it was hard on her because she didn’t have any family living close, plus her relationship broke down. So she came to live with me. When we first moved from Queensland we lived on a property at Ariah Park, but it was pretty lonely out there, so we came to live in Wagga.
What is happening now?
Mum is mostly self-sufficient with personal care, but her mobility isn’t good and she needs emotional support.
She’s already had a hip replaced, and last week she had a pin removed from her leg. She had a car accident years ago and they put a pin in the bone, but now she needs a knee replaced so they want to let the bone heal without the pin before they do the replacement.
She going to need both knees and shoulder replaced, so there will be a surgery every 3 months. We’re playing the hospital waiting game.
Mind you, the Wagga Base Hospital is great – the staff there are always flat chat but they’re happy and understanding. They know nobody wants to be in hospital so they make the best of it.
‘The hardest thing is getting time away. You really do need personal time and sometimes that’s hard to get.’
What is the hardest thing about being a carer?
The hardest thing is getting time away. You really do need personal time and sometimes that’s hard to get.
Though I have to say I’m pretty lucky – I know people who have to be there 24/7 but we have family living just a couple of doors away and Mum can be by herself for a short time – so I can get out every now and then without worry.
What is the best thing about being a carer?
I like just spending time with her. For years we were apart – she was in Queensland and I was living all over. So it’s good to just be around her now.
We can just go for drives, do what we want.
One day we went out to go to Bunnings in the morning, and ended up in the Snowy Mountains and got home at 9.30 at night! We just didn’t feel like being at home so we went to watch the brumbies in the mountains. That was a really good day.
If I wasn’t a carer, we couldn’t do that – I’d have to go to work. But caring is my work. Mind you, a pay rise would be nice!
What have you found that helps you?
Finding a good team of medical professionals is brilliant. We had a great doctor in Queensland. I have my own health issues and he really spent a lot of time chasing them down and helping. And now we have found a brilliant one here.
It can take a while to find a good one – the first doctor we went to here seemed to be just doing it by numbers, so it took a few tries. It can be hard too to find one that bulk bills, because you don’t have a lot of money sitting around when you’re a pensioner. But when you do find a good doctor and team it just takes so much stress off.
And pets help – we’ve got a couple of dogs. They’re one more thing to care for, but it’s worth it. When you’re stressed, pat the pets.
‘Finding a good team of medical professionals is brilliant… when you do find a good doctor and team it just takes so much stress off.’
What would you like to tell other carers?
At times it can be tough. But you can get help. Sometimes you have to look for it – there’s a lot out there whether it’s government or private or whatever. But help is only a phone call away.
If you are caring for an older person, visit the My Aged Care website to see what help they can get, or call 1800 200 422
If you are travelling with the person you care for, cangoeverywhere.com.au and Disabled Motorists Australia have help and advice